Kane Williamson explained it was a "tough" decision to leave Lockie Ferguson out of the New Zealand side for the first Test against England but insisted the paceman's time will come.

The uncapped Ferguson, 28, will not make his debut when the first-ever Test at Bay Oval gets under way on Thursday, with Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner getting the nod.

Black Caps captain Williamson hinted that the rapid Ferguson, outstanding in the Cricket World Cup, could make his bow in the longest format in the near future.

Williamson said of the bowler's omission for the start of the two-match series: "It was tough.

"We know what he can bring - he's certainly not far away and he's an exciting prospect.

"He brings something a little different which is really exciting, no doubt he's raring to go if and when that opportunity comes. His name will always be discussed."

He added: "The three that we've gone with are guys that have been in the group for a long period of time and performed really well for us, so I know they're looking forward to getting back into Test cricket.

"It's great to have so many guys in the environment who are very much raring to go and all offering different things."

All-rounder Todd Astle was released from the New Zealand squad along with Ferguson.

For England, opening batsman Dom Sibley will make his debut and Ollie Pope returns while Sam Curran was preferred to Chris Woakes in Mount Maunganui.

Former England Women's manager Mark Sampson has been charged by the Football Association (FA) for allegedly using racist language.

Sampson is now caretaker boss at League Two side Stevenage and is alleged to have breached FA Rule E3, relating to a comment that was "improper and/or abusive and/or insulting".

It is claimed to be an "aggravated breach", meaning it referenced "ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality".

Stevenage undertook an internal investigation in September after "allegations of racially discriminatory language" were reported in the media.

The club said the claims, purportedly made by a Stevenage coach dismissed by Sampson, had "no foundation".

However, following the FA's own investigation, Sampson now has until December 6 to respond to the charge.

The Welshman, who led England to the semi-finals of the 2015 Women's World Cup, was sacked as the Lionesses boss in September 2017.

The FA said it had made the decision after evidence emerged of "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" during his time with Bristol Academy.

It insisted Sampson's dismissal was not linked to allegations made by former England forward Eniola Aluko that there had been alleged discriminatory behaviour on the manager's part.

Dom Sibley will open the batting for England in the first Test against New Zealand, while Sam Curran has been given the nod ahead of Chris Woakes.

The opening clash of the two-match series begins in Mount Maunganui on Thursday, with debutant Sibley joining Rory Burns at the top of the order.

Curran has been preferred to fellow all-rounder Woakes in a line-up unchanged from the three-day warm-up fixture with New Zealand A.

Warwickshire star Sibley scored 14 in that match, in which England batted for only one innings and settled for a draw.

He was the stand-out performer in the 2019 County Championship season, scoring 1,324 runs at an average of 69.68.

England, who beat the Black Caps in the Cricket World Cup final and won the T20 series 3-2, have won only two of their last 11 Test series away from home.

England team to face New Zealand: 

Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad.

Rugby Australia (RA) chief executive Raelene Castle said discussions were held with England head coach Eddie Jones before the Wallabies appointed Dave Rennie.

RA confirmed the appointment of New Zealander and Glasgow Warriors boss Rennie as Michael Cheika's replacement on Wednesday.

Cheika vacated his position following Australia's quarter-final defeat to England at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

A return to Australia was touted for Jones, who was sacked by the Wallabies in 2005, but Castle revealed it was too difficult to prise the 59-year-old from England.

"We had discussions with Eddie," she told a news conference for Rennie's appointment midweek.

"But he was contracted to England, and tightly contracted, which ruled him out."

Rennie – a two-time Super Rugby-winning coach with the Chiefs – is the second New Zealander to coach the Wallabies, following in the footsteps of Robbie Deans.

Deans took over in 2007 and he guided Australia to third place at the 2011 World Cup before being axed in 2013.

Having been encouraged to apply for the All Blacks vacancy following Steve Hansen's exit, Rennie told Rugby.com.au: "I'm a proud Kiwi but the big thing is I've been talking to Australia for a lot of months and the All Blacks interest came in late in the piece and by that stage, we'd done a lot of homework, we were really excited about the opportunity to go to Australia and that ended up being an easy decision."

Rennie, who will not arrive until July, added: "I think Australians want their national team coached by an Australian and I'm OK with that.

"Hopefully, they're feeling that way because they care about Aussie rugby and all I can say is everywhere I've gone I've immersed myself in the community and the culture.

"I guess we'll be judged by what we do as opposed to what I say now but I can assure you that I care about he future of Australian rugby, going to work really hard to get a strong connection with the Super Rugby coaches and a national age grade coaches to ensure we've got good young talent through and good pathways for them."

Marcus Rashford believes England's "frightening" attacking talent can power the World Cup semi-finalists to a successful Euro 2020.

Gareth Southgate's side cruised through qualifying for next year's tournament, winning seven of eight matches and scoring 37 times.

Only once before – in 1908 – have England struck more goals in competitive matches in a calendar year than the 38 scored in 2019.

Question marks remain over certain positions in the starting XI but in Rashford, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling there looks to be a defined and dangerous attacking trio.

"I think it is a good combination," said Manchester United forward Rashford.

"But we have played games without that particular front three and it is frightening what we can do as a group of attackers.

"I think all of these games are just gearing you up for the summer and if we go into the summer anywhere near the sort of form we have been in recently then it will be a successful tournament."

Rashford was among the scorers as England signed off from qualifying with a 4-0 win over Kosovo on Sunday.

Jadon Sancho, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who started in Pristina, are among those pressing for spots, while Jamie Vardy could add another element to the squad if the in-form Leicester City striker reverses his international retirement.

Rashford said: "I have been in two tournaments now and the squad is so important.

"With the qualities that every individual has in this team, it is something we have to use to our advantage. People are going to be playing at different moments but when you are on the pitch you have to do your best and try to come up with the goods.

"It is good competition. We really do have that kind of environment when we are in the camp together and it is positive."

Gareth Southgate plans to stay on as England manager for the 2022 World Cup if he feels there is "warmth" for him to continue, though he acknowledged that could depend on his side's performance at Euro 2020.

England secured their place at next year's finals with a 7-0 rout of Montenegro last week, before rounding off their qualification campaign in style by beating Kosovo 4-0.

After reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, the last four of the UEFA Nations League and qualifying for Euro 2020 comfortably at the top of Group A, Southgate conceded his side will now be singled out as one of the teams to beat in the tournament.

And the former Middlesbrough manager is aware how his position could change should England fail to impress next year.

"When you have a week like I've had, you sense that people can fall out of love with you and if there isn't a warmth for you to continue, then that can start to affect the team," Southgate, who dropped Raheem Sterling from his squad for the clash with Montenegro after the Manchester City forward's tussle with team-mate Joe Gomez, told reporters.

"So, I'm realistic about how quickly those tides can turn. For me, it's about what's next and I know in the end we'll always be judged ultimately by the tournaments.

"We've got to accept that [England are one of the favourites]. We should go in feeling confident about ourselves and, equally, we know there are areas of the game we've got to get better at. But I think all the top teams will feel the same.

"The players have the belief and we've got to keep giving them that belief, but we don't tell them lies, we are pretty honest with our appraisals of their performances and the sorts of matches they're going in to."

Southgate, however, will still be planning, even if he is uncertain as to whether he will lead England at the Qatar World Cup.

"I think when I started and we looked at other federations, we were almost embarrassed to go and look at where we should be preparing for," Southgate explained.

"And Germany were always there and they'd already secured the best hotel. So, I think we've had to be a bit bolder and say, 'no, look, it's not a jinx to go and do it'. We've got to have belief in what we're doing and execute the right preparation.

"Without taking any focus off what we're doing next summer we've got to get the next bit right, otherwise we'll be behind the curve. I think the best organisations get that short-, mid- and long-term planning right."

Eddie Jones says there is a chance some of his England players will opt to miss the Six Nations in order to help Saracens avoid relegation.

Saracens confirmed on Monday they would not be appealing against the 35-point sanction and £5.36million fine they received for breaching the salary cap in each of the previous three seasons, leaving them well adrift at the bottom of the Premiership table.

Jones picked six Saracens players in his starting XV in the Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa, captain Owen Farrell joined by club colleagues Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly and Jamie George, plus brothers Mako and Billy Vunipola.

England head coach Jones, who had a spell as Sarries' director of rugby earlier in his career, is contemplating the possibility of being without some of those top names early next year.

He believes they may be tempted to help the three-time European champions dodge the drop, with the league season still taking place while England are in Six Nations action between February 2 and March 14.

"It could have a significant impact," Jones said to BBC Sport when asked about how Saracens' plight could impact the national team.

"It's something we need to weigh up and look at very carefully.

"Obviously there may be some dislocation between Saracens players and the rest of the clubs. That's a reality, so we may have to work to mend those relationships a bit harder.

"And there might be some Saracens players who feel like they've got to play for their club instead of their country, to make sure they don't go down. 

"So we'll weigh all those up as they come about."

Pushed on whether any knowledge of the situation could have weighed heavily on the minds of the Saracens players at the World Cup, Jones said: "It possibly could have - we don't know about that. 

"But I think the main thing is now what we do now going forward. We are going to have to work hard to make sure we get those relationships strong again."

The punishment for Saracens sees them drop to -22 points, 26 below 11th-placed Leicester Tigers.

England coach Eddie Jones does not want to see Japan introduced to the Six Nations at this stage but would be open to the Brave Blossoms playing Northern Hemisphere sides on bye-weeks.

Hosts Japan reached the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup for the first time this year, stunning both Ireland and Scotland in the process.

However, Jamie Joseph's side are not involved in annual international competitions either in Europe, with the Six Nations, or in the Southern Hemisphere, with the Rugby Championship.

Japanese club Sunwolves play in Super Rugby alongside teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina, yet the Daily Mail reported the Brave Blossoms could be set for a Six Nations invite.

Jones, who led England to the World Cup final, previously coached Japan and wants to see the team develop. However, he believes the international season is long enough already for now.

"I think 10 internationals a year in the Northern Hemisphere is about right," Jones told BBC Sport. "To increase the Six Nations would mean taking away from somewhere else.

"I'd bring Japan in for bye-weeks, so they'd play two games over the next three of four years to prove they are strong enough to compete consistently."

While Japan are still relative newbies at the highest level, Jones believes their World Cup performance can be a lesson to Scotland, who disappointed in missing out on the last eight.

"Gregor [Townsend] has got them back playing how a Scotland side should play," he said. "[Being small] makes it difficult, but you can have one-off success like Japan have had.

"You've got to pool all your resources into being the best 'small' team in the world. That means you look at everything you do, at how you can win ball quickly - particularly from set-pieces.

"You look at how you can win the ball quickly from the breakdown and you need a consistent programme for four years to be at your best to do that.

"You have to play quick, you have to have a varied attack and it takes a lot of cohesion to play that way."

Harry Kane and England wrapped up a prolific 2019 with a 4-0 Euro 2020 qualification win against Kosovo on Sunday.

Next year, Gareth Southgate's team will hope to emulate their country's greatest ever side by winning a major tournament at Wembley.

England's current vintage are at least the equal of Alf Ramsey's World Cup winners in one way already – their 38 goals scored in 2019 is the same number that the Three Lions managed in a seminal 1966.

Only once, in 1909, have England managed more goals in a calendar year, when they scored 39 in just seven games.

Kane's individual haul of 12 equalled the record for an England player in a calendar year, standing alongside Everton great Dixie Dean's efforts in 1927 and George Hilsdon in 1908.

The Tottenham star has now netted in each of his past six international appearances and is the only England player to do so in the post-war era – matching his own efforts between October 2017 and July 2018.

Gareth Southgate claimed England have emerged stronger after working through the bust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez and ending their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with emphatic victories.

After being left out of the squad for England's 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro following his behind-the-scenes clash with Gomez, Sterling was restored to Southgate's side for their campaign-closing 4-0 victory over Kosovo and was involved in goals scored by Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford.

Southgate praised the way his players pulled together and indicated he is happy with the progress they are making with the European Championship seven months away.

"You have to work through any difficulties you might have," Southgate told ITV. "The whole group have done that really well and I think we've come out of this stronger than we started it, quite frankly.

"We're further ahead in being more settled in the group and the way we want to play and players understanding our principles of play.

"There is really good competition and we wanted to learn a few things tonight, that we certainly did."

Harry Winks opened the scoring at Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri with his first international goal - a feat that was matched by second-half substitute Mason Mount, who scored in stoppage time.

Winks admitted England's defensive lapses allowed Kosovo to compete, while underlining his commitment to the team regardless of whether Southgate plays him in a deep-lying role or as an attacking midfielder.

"I like to be able to play both positions," Winks said on ITV. "I consider myself someone who can be in that pivot [position] and be in that eight if needed as well.

"There's always moments we need to improve on. It was the same in the Montenegro game, we gave away a few sloppy chances and we need to work on that because, come the Euros, we'll come up against stronger opposition than them and they might punish us."

Kane, whose strike took his tally to 12 goals in qualifying, echoed his Tottenham team-mate's comments, while reflecting upon England's strong finish to the game.

"We went through a few spells where they had a bit of pressure," he told ITV. "But we soaked it up and towards the end, when the spaces started to open up, it was clinical and 4-0 is a great result.

"We know we can improve. Tonight was difficult: the pitch was poor and it was hard to play, and there's always going to be little mistakes.

"When we play better teams we've got to make sure we're on it."

 

Harry Winks and Mason Mount scored their first senior international goals as England rounded off Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-0 victory in Kosovo, where Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford were also among the goals.

Tottenham's Winks provided the finish to a rare moment of first-half quality, although his combination with Declan Rice and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield did not always deliver the cohesion England need in their engine room.

Kane added a second 11 minutes from time and substitute Rashford swept home four minutes later.

Mount's late strike added gloss to the scoreline but Bernard Challandes' impressive Kosovo side can still reach the European Championship via a play-off place secured by virtue of their Nations League performance.

After matching England for long spells at Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri they will be confident of making it count.

Raheem Sterling has been restored to England's starting XI against Kosovo after being dropped following a bust-up with Joe Gomez, while Nick Pope will make his first start between the posts.

Sterling was left out of the squad for the 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro on Thursday as punishment for an incident that occurred in a private area of England's training base.

The two players had clashed in last Sunday's Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield, and Sterling is reported to have reacted poorly when greeted by Gomez the following day as the England squad met up.

Gomez came on as second-half substitute in the win over Montenegro but was jeered by some at Wembley Stadium as he entered the pitch, leading to Gareth Southgate and Sterling condemning the fans for the frosty reception.

The Liverpool defender has since returned to his club due to injury.

Sterling's restoration is one of five alterations to the team from Thursday, with the City star coming in for Marcus Rashford, while Jadon Sancho moves to the bench in favour of Callum Hudson-Odoi.

In midfield, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harry Winks retain their places, with Declan Rice coming in, while Tyrone Mings and Pope also enter the starting XI.

England have already secured a place at Euro 2020 before the contest in Pristina, the final outing of the qualifying campaign for both nations.

England manager Gareth Southgate believes Raheem Sterling's public message of support for Joe Gomez has drawn a line under a tumultuous week.

Sterling and Gomez became embroiled in a media storm following a bust-up at the beginning of the international break.

Southgate dropped Manchester City star Sterling for Friday's Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Montenegro, a match partially overshadowed by the boos that greeted Liverpool defender Gomez upon his second-half introduction at Wembley.

The "upsetting experience" for Gomez, as Southgate termed it, prompted Sterling to issue a social media statement accepting "full responsibility" for the spat and defending his team-mate.

An eventful few days took another unexpected turn on Saturday when Gomez pulled out of the squad due to a minor knee problem, but the Three Lions boss now hopes to move forward without further scrutiny of squad harmony. 

"You couldn't make it up, really, if you tried," Southgate said of Gomez's injury, which rules him out of Sunday's game against Kosovo.

"He's absolutely fine. He took a clash of knees [on Friday]. We scanned it just to be certain and I think he'll be fine in a couple of days, but he wasn't able to train."

Southgate continued: "We actually ended up having a chuckle this morning at the ridiculousness of him having to go home in the way he did.

"It's been a difficult week for him but one that will make him stronger and one that he's dealt with really well.

"I think now is a good moment for him just to go home for a couple of days, clear his head. The pleasing thing for me is that we've got him back on the pitch.

"I think the fact that Raheem put out the tweet that he did the other night was real closure on that whole incident.

"We get Raheem back on the pitch [against Kosovo]. We won the match on Thursday and we can now just look forward."

England have already sealed Euro 2020 qualification leading into Sunday's final Group A fixture in Pristina.

Southgate will reportedly hand goalkeeper Nick Pope his first international start, while Callum Hudson-Odoi could replace Jadon Sancho in attack.

Kosovo coach Bernard Challandes believes Raheem Sterling is so good a broken leg is one of the only ways to stop the England star, but added his team are "too nice" for that.

Sterling will return to the England team for their final Euro 2020 qualifier at Kosovo on Sunday, having sat out the midweek win over Montenegro following a confrontation with team-mate Joe Gomez.

The Manchester City winger scored one and created three more as Kosovo were beaten 5-3 at St Mary's Stadium earlier in the campaign.

Challandes is not enthused by the prospect of Sterling returning with a point to prove this weekend, yet he insists his side will not resort to rough tactics.

"The bad news for us is that Sterling will play," Challandes told a pre-match news conference. "He is one of the best in the world in his position.

"But [Marcus] Rashford is great, [Harry] Kane, [Tammy] Abraham - England have a lot of great players. Whether we play against Sterling or not, we have to play a superb match.

"We are not dealing with individuals but with the team as a whole, so we will be preparing for England.

"How to stop Sterling? Maybe we break his leg, but it's not our style. We are too nice. But we have a good team, as we have shown in this qualification campaign."

The 7-0 win over Montenegro that booked England's place at Euro 2020 meant Gareth Southgate's men were top of the scoring charts in qualification prior to Saturday's games.

The Three Lions' goal-hungry attack concerns Challandes, who added: "England have tremendous offensive potential, scoring many goals and winning 7-0, 6-0 and 5-0.

"For us, it is a challenge, an incredible challenge. As a coach, I can enjoy this game but, of course, I am a little bit scared.

"This is the 1001st match for England, and it is the 29th for us. They have a little bit more experience than we do."

Liverpool pair Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson have been ruled out of England's final Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo on Sunday.

Gomez, 22, sustained a knock to the knee in training on Friday and will not travel with the rest of Gareth Southgate's squad, an England statement confirmed.

The injury caps a tumultuous few days for the defender, who was involved in a bust-up with Raheem Sterling earlier in the week.

Some fans booed Gomez when he was introduced as a second-half substitute during England's clinical 7-0 win over Montenegro at Wembley.

Southgate and Sterling expressed bewilderment over the treatment of the young centre-back and England will now be without him as the Three Lions wrap up their Group A campaign, having already sealed qualification.

Henderson was not involved against Montenegro after arriving in camp with a viral infection, which has not fully cleared.

"The pair have returned to their club meaning the Three Lions will head to Pristina on Saturday with a 23-man squad," the statement concluded.

Premier League leaders Liverpool will hope to have both players available when their title tilt resumes away to Crystal Palace on November 23.

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